Guest blog: celebrating ten years of tomorrow's engineers

EngineeringUK CEO Dr Hilary Leevers marks the 10th annual Tomorrow’s Engineers Week with a plea for the whole community to show the next generation the breadth of careers available in engineering and technology.

School students participating in 2021's Tomorrow's Engineers activities
School students participating in 2021's Tomorrow's Engineers activities - Engineering UK

The mission that drives everyone at EngineeringUK is to inspire the next generation and create a diverse future workforce that enables UK engineering and tech to thrive. Each November, Tomorrow’s Engineers Week sees the whole community come together to showcase engineering careers and shout about the incredible work engineers and technicians are doing every day.

This year marks 10 years of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (#TEWeek22). We will celebrate developments of the past decade, but crucially look forward to the future to think about what new innovations we might see. We are inviting young people to think about what engineering could achieve in the next decade.

Students will discuss ideas and innovations with their peers as well as engineering professionals and their contributions will be shown in the Future Minds Broadcast, available from the first day of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (7 to 11 November). This activity will get students talking about the future of engineering in 4 sectors: entertainment, sport, technology and the environment. I can’t wait to hear their ideas about how engineering will shape the future!

Importantly, we will be giving young people the chance to see and hear about a broad range of engineering careers from engineering professionals – if this is you, then please think about how you can help. This connection between the current and potential future workforce has always been at the heart of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week and we hope to see more of you than ever taking to social media to help the next generation understand what you do. Relatable role models are so important and we want every young person to have the chance to see or hear from someone they can relate to, so do please share your story, share a photo, share a video.

EngineeringUK’s Engineering Brand Monitor which looked at the attitudes and knowledge of STEM secondary teachers revealed that STEM outreach activities can have a huge impact on young people’s perceptions of engineering. The survey found that young people who had attended a STEM careers activity were 3.4 times more likely to consider a career in engineering, compared to those who had not. This speaks volumes about the power of involving young people in STEM engagement to help them develop an interest in engineering.

Campaigns like Tomorrow’s Engineers Week and National Engineering Day (2 November this year), led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, offer a high-profile focus on engineering careers. That opportunity to flood social media, and shine a light on the varied roles that engineers and technicians take, works well. A group effort like Tomorrow’s Engineers Week is key to EngineeringUK’s work with our Members and the driving force behind The Tomorrow’s Engineers Code. The Code is for organisations – big and small – who are funding, designing and delivering engineering and tech outreach and want to inspire a diverse future workforce. This autumn marks 2 years of The Code, which has grown to over 200 Signatories and Supporters committed to working towards common goals.

Working together has made Tomorrow’s Engineers Week successful as the community mobilises behind a single campaign. That collaboration, that willingness to join forces, is also a hugely important element of The Code. Learning from others and sharing insight is invaluable in ensuring the engineering community really understands how best to engage with young people. The Code community has asked us to enable more collaboration and so we’ve been working on a new tool which will launch soon to facilitate connections across The Code community.

We’ll be encouraging everyone we work with to use #TEWeek22 to reach young people, their parents, teachers and other influencers with positive messages about the range of careers open to them in engineering and technology, and the future opportunities the industry has to offer. And if you haven’t done so already, we’re asking you to make Tomorrow’s Engineers Week 2022 the moment your organisation joins The Code and commits to working with other similarly motivated organisations to inspire a diverse engineering workforce.

Dr Hilary Leevers is the CEO of EngineeringUK